Romeo and Juliet essay

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Kiri Signora May 2005

Romeo and Juliet essay

‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a love story, set in Verona in the 16th century. It tells of the tragic tale of two star crossed lovers. ‘Star crossed’ meaning that they are destined to be together by the stars and also meaning that there paths will cross in a unfortunate way, this is also to say that fate controls them, its not just the audience that are aware of this, the characters are also very much aware of this, Romeo and Juliet consistently see omens. At the beginning of the prologue Shakespeare emphasises the word civil:

’ Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.’

This is ironic as they often engage in civil wars and shed ‘civil blood’. In this play Shakespeare demonstrates the significance that opposite feelings and emotions play in life.
The love story is played out against a background of hatred, violence and aggression. Shakespeare illustrates various forms of love for example the type of love Romeo and Juliet have for each other which is as true deep and passionate, balancing out all aspects of true love including, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Where-as Romeo and Rosaline’s love was an unreturned love.

Before we met Romeo or Juliet we knew about them. We overhear her dad and paris arranging the marriage and we hear montague talking about romeo being inlove with Rosaline:

Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs;     

But all so soon as the all-cheering sun                            

 We know that the ‘Capulet’s’ and the ‘Montague’s’ don’t get on with each other, we also now that they fight:

“Clubs, bills, and partisans! strike! beat them down!     
Down with the Capulets! down with the Montagues”

This also shows that the townspeople are used to them fighting.

Shakespeare prepares for act 1 scene 5 by showing Romeo's infatuation with Rosaline (a very strong “crush” on her). On the guest list for the party, Rosaline is described as Capulet's “fair niece”, but she never appears in the play. Capulet's speech to Paris (in 1.2) suggests that Juliet has not been out of her house much (only, perhaps, to go to worship and confession at Friar Lawrence's cell). Maybe this is why Paris (a family friend) has noticed her, but Romeo has no idea who she is. Immediately before this scene, Romeo has spoken of his fear that some terrible

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“consequence yet hanging in the stars” shall begin at “this night's revels” (Capulet's party).

When Romeo sees Juliet he speaks about her, using metaphor:

“She doth teach the torches to burn bright”.

 This tells us that Juliet's beauty is much brighter than that of the torches - so she is very beautiful. She is so much brighter that she teaches the torches how to shine - a poetic exaggeration, since torches can't really be taught. It is important for Romeo to say this, as the audience cannot see Juliet's beauty directly - in Shakespeare's theatre a boy, perhaps seen ...

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